Coping with anxiety is difficult for individuals who suffer from its symptoms, because it can impact the ability to complete day-to-day activities. Making dietary changes can often help to ease the symptoms of anxiety. While diet alone cannot cure anxiety, there are several different foods that can be added to a diet in order to improve mood.
Tryptophan can produce chemicals in the brain that encourage relaxation and boost mood. Adding foods with tryptophan may ease symptoms of anxiety by allowing an individual to relax and enjoy an improvement in mood. Anxiety sufferers should add foods such as milk, bananas, oats, soy, poultry, cheese, nuts, peanut butter, and sesame seeds as good sources of tryptophan.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests adding a variety of B vitamins to your diet can help reduce anxiety. While the Medical Center cautions that no diet can eradicate anxiety, it does report that eating foods with B vitamins will result in increased nourishment and strength that will help combat symptoms of anxiety. Good sources of B vitamins include almonds, beans, whole grains, dark leafy greens and sea vegetables, such as seaweed and kelp.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A depletion of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain can be related to anxiety disorders, according to Jonathon Davidson and Henry Dreher, authors of "The Anxiety Book: Developing Strength in the Face of Fear." Adding sources of omega-3s--such as fish, flaxseed and nuts--to your diet can help ease symptoms of anxiety, add the authors. Davidson and Dreher also suggest increasing consumption of monounsaturated oils such as olive oil or canola oil to boost omega-3 consumption.
Eating complex carbohydrates can boost serotonin levels, according to Help Guide, which leads to relaxation and calm and can help ease feelings of anxiety. Help Guide also suggests that complex carbohydrates work to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can lead to improvements in anxiety symptoms, because low blood sugar can lead to anxiety. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
According to the Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy, increasing protein intake can help alleviate feelings of anxiety. Eating high-protein snacks is encouraged, particularly for individuals who tend to experience low energy and high anxiety during the day. The Association reports that hypoglycemia has been linked to anxiety, and it is important to keep blood sugar steady to avoid symptoms. Davidson and Dreher encourage individuals suffering from anxiety to add sources of protein including chicken, fish and lean beef to their diet.
- "The Anxiety Book: Developing Strength in the Face of Fear"; Jonathon Davidson and Henry Dreher; 2004
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Stress
- Help Guide: How to Stop Worrying: Self Help Strategies for Anxiety Relief
- Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy: Natural Treatments to Reduce Anxiety & OCD